Release Date: November 10th, 2006 by MGM.
The Cast: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, Tammy Trull, Adriana Millan, Terry Crews, J.K. Simmons.
Directed by David Ayer.
Interview with David Ayer
BASIC PREMISE: Jim (Christian Bale), fresh out of the military, along with his best friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez), try to escape from their dangerous life of drug-dealing and violence in South Central L.A.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Harsh Times could have been much more refreshing and engaging with a more believable script. Christian Bale does his best to elevate the material as Jim, an ex-soldier who tries to enroll in law enforcement despite his drug addiction. Jim seems a bit too schizophrenic—at times he’s smooth-talking and calm while other times he gets hyper and angry (much like the character Bale played in American Psycho). The plot often feels redundant as he and his buddy, Mike, roam around the streets of L.A. while avoiding getting caught by the police. In a brief, poorly-developed subplot, Jim is in love with a Marta (Trull), who lives in Mexico, and tries to bring her to America to marry her. Mike lives with his girlfriend, Sylvia (Longoria), who keeps on insisting that he gets a job. Writer/director David Ayer doesn’t have enough scenes between Jim and Marta or Mike and Sylvia to establish a believable relationship between the two—both women seem one-dimensional. Moreover, it’s not easy to root for Jim or Mike because neither of them has redeeming qualities that would make them likeable or even interesting as characters. They’re supposed to be lifelong friends, but they don’t prove that onscreen. Even some of the action scenes don’t really add much in terms of entertainment value. There’s one particularly horrific scene involving a turkey baster that should have been cut. The third act is rather over-the-top. On a positive note, Ayer includes some well-needed comic relief which briefly adds some liveliness to the stale plot.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A redundant, contrived plot and poorly-developed characters.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 4
IN A NUTSHELL: Christian Bale delivers a decent performance, but the plot feels redundant and contrived with poorly-developed characters.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "H" Menu